The Health Apps Library hosted on NHS Choices will no longer be available from 16 October.
The library, which was set up in March 2013 as a way for the public to access a selection of smartphone and tablet apps reviewed by the NHS, is set to end a “period of testing”, according to the updated about page of its website.
The page goes on to say that the government’s National Information Board, which is leading on the digital future of the NHS, will use learning from the library to help with the development of a new endorsement model for patient focused healthcare apps.
This endorsement model is outlined in the NIB’s ‘Personalised Health and Care 2020’ framework, where it is one of several workstreams working on ways to deliver goals to improve the use of digital in the health service.
A pilot ‘app library’ for mental health tools was launched as part of this process earlier this year and there are further plans for similar resources for diabetes, smoking cessation, maternity and end of life care.
Concerns were raised last month about the quality of apps that are featured in the NHS Choices Health Apps Library when a study published in BMC Medicine showed that many of them failed to provide adequate protection for patient data.
The research, carried out by Imperial College London and France’s Ecole Polytechnique CNRS, showed that out of 35 apps in the library that sent identifying information over the internet, 23 did so without encryption.
Four apps were found to be sending both identifying and health information without encryption during the review, which assessed 79 apps in the library during July 2013.
Two apps – mental health support tool Kvetch and Spanish-owned doctor search service Doctoralia – were removed from the service in July this year after concerns were raised about the way they handled patient data.
In a letter to the owners of apps on the library, NHS Choices has asked that any links, logos or references used that relate to the library should be removed.
Dan Bladon, a Twitter user who according to his bio is co-founder of two apps in the library, tweeted: “NHS apps library was apparently in beta and is now closing. Bit of a farce really.”
NHS apps library was apparently in beta and is now closing. Bit of a farce really. pic.twitter.com/h3Oi0pziiP
— Dan Bladon (@Blado78) October 8, 2015
A spokesperson for NHS England told Digital Health News: “We are working to upgrade the Health Apps Library, which was launched as a pilot site in 2013 and reviews and recommends apps against a defined set of criteria. Building on the success of the Mental Health Apps Library, which assesses apps and digital tools against further clinical standards, we will launch a series of ‘apps stores’ to promote clinically validated apps in a range of other areas including diabetes, obesity prevention, maternity and early years, smoking cessation and COPD.”